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The basics of intuitive eating

Although intuitive eating changed my life and was the primary force in healing my relationship with food, it’s terrifying initially. That terror is completely normal. Since we’ve been conditioned by society to depend on outside sources & nutritional “gurus” for information, relying only on ourselves has never been an option.

The basic premise is intuitive eating relies on internal cues, as opposed to EXTERNAL cues. So instead of relying on something outside of yourself (meal plans with specific foods, lists, someone who told you you should eat a certain way), you can cue INTO yourself to see what you are hungry for (so the actual food) and if you are actually hungry or full (checking into our fullness/hunger levels).

As we develop the skill to tune into ourselves, we become our OWN greatest tools. Because we take ourselves everywhere we go. So we can travel, go to someone else’s home, out to a nice restaurant, and feel in control and committed to feeding ourselves in a way that works for us. No rigid food lists, no crazy meal prep, no eating out of tupperwares all the time. Life happens all the time. As we become our biggest advocates and our own gurus, we create the type of sustainability (and happiness!) we so desire with our food choices.

I wholeheartedly believe a sustainable diet philosophy involves no food restrictions or “rules” set by others. Instead, we can adopt a mind & body centered eating approach. Everyone should still be able to enjoy food and not feel “restricted” or like you are on a “diet”.  Long term and successful weight loss stems from changing our perspectives and our overall relationship with food and eating.

Intuitive eating is the cornerstone of the long-haul, one that leads to a lifetime of success with your relationship with food and a natural weight for your body. This involves paying vigilant attention to the body’s signals for hunger and fullness. Our bodies are equipped to tell us when we should start eating and when we should stop, but only if we listen.

Are you currently eating when you are truly hungry and stopping when you are full? Additionally, are you eating foods that make you feel good during and after you eat them?

When we get in touch with the sensations of hunger and fullness, with full reliance on oneself, a strong sense of confidence and trust around food emerges. That sensation overflows into other areas of our lives, propelling us to make eating and our relationship with food pleasurable, fun, and easy.

Intuitive eating begins with the decision to try. Initially, it will not be easy. You might think you’ll eat everything in the world, and I address that here. But with every bite, meal, day, and year, I promise it will get easier. In a way, our relationship with food is a portrayal of what we feel about ourselves and our lives, including what we believe we love, lack, or need.

General guidelines:

Before you eat anything, stop and ask yourself if you are truly hungry.

  • At times, we lose touch with our sense of true hunger and just eat because we think we need to (because it’s lunchtime or whatever) or due to a craving.
  • It helps to rank your hunger and fullness on a scale from 1-10 (1 being stomach growling starving and 10 being Thanksgiving-style full), and eat according to that hunger.
  • Get in touch what that hunger feels like for YOU, ie stomach grumbling, light-headed, can’t think well.
  • I eat at a hunger of 2ish, because it allows me to be hungry enough without wanting to kill someone and eat my entire refrigerator.
  • If you don’t find yourself truly hungry, wait until you are to eat.
  • If you still want to eat but you aren’t hungry, get curious about why you still want to eat. THIS is the type of juicy stuff our relationship with food gives us. What do you really need in this moment?
  • If you decide to eat anyway, do it with zero judgement.

 

When you do eat, sit down, and enjoy it to the fullest

  • Enjoy what you are eating with gusto and pleasure
  • Stay in the moment, the right here and right now of your meal
  • Eliminate eating in front of the television, standing up, or in the car
  • Put down your fork between bites in order to assess hunger throughout the meal
  • Take your time

 

Stop eating when you feel that you have had enough

  • As said before, our bodies know the amount of food that is sufficient to fuel us
  • Usually, at any point throughout our meal, there is a feeling we get when we know we’ve eaten enough food
    • Make sure to get familiar with that feeling and recognize what that feels like
    • Recognize that this sensation can happen mid-bite or in the middle of the meal
    • It’s okay to stop eating when you still have food on your plate (This topic is debatable and touchy considering the amount of hunger that exists in the world, but know that a few bites on your plate will not solve anything)
  • If you feel the need to overeat, stop and ask yourself what you truly need instead
  • Not overeating will allow you to face whatever is going on with you at the moment

 

Make sure to not deprive yourself of the foods you love

  • One of the cornerstones of this plan is not to eliminate any foods: part of life is enjoying foods with family and loved ones
  • Enjoy something you love every single day, sitting down and giving it your full attention
  • This might include a piece of dark chocolate or another sweet
  • If you decide to have a calorically dense dessert, pay attention, because we’re usually satisfied after 2-3 bites
  • Sometimes, the idea of a dessert is much more appealing than the dessert itself
  • Satisfaction from food is the highest in the first bite and diminishes with every bite thereafter

 

Make sure to eat what you actually want

  • Honor what your body wants.
  • Sometimes it wants vegetables, and sometimes it wants ice cream. I eat ice cream and chips for dinner sometimes, but I do it with FULL awareness, because I honor what I want in that moment. Usually, I don’t want that.
  • Do you want something hot or cold? With a lot of texture and crunchy or something like soup?
  • If we eat what we don’t want, the craving for the food we actually wanted doesn’t go away and most of the time, we end up eating more.
  • Have lots of different foods on hand.
  • Enjoy every single bite of your food.

 

  1. Tony Villanueva

    March 2nd, 2017 at 1:21 am

    Great article, this makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the insight.

  2. thegrizzlykitchen

    March 2nd, 2017 at 8:48 am

    Thanks so much, Tony! It’s my pleasure.

  3. Lori Satterwhite

    March 2nd, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Love your heart in this article! Keep up the good work!

  4. thegrizzlykitchen

    March 3rd, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    That means so much to me. Thanks, Lori 🙂

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